Performing your own songs with a full, professional orchestra must be high on the wish list of many musicians out there. Following the release of his 2019 album ‘Open’, Wellingtonian Louis Baker, a man with a soulful voice as well as an imaginative songwriter, was given this opportunity last year when the APO approached him to play one of their fabled occasional gigs with pop musicians, stepping into the recent footsteps of Nadia Reid, Dave Dobbyn, Six60 and a select group of some of our other finest musicians. Silke Hartung caught up with Louis ahead of his show, which takes place on February 11 at Auckland Town Hall. (Tickets available here.)
Thank you! This has been a dream of mine for a very long time. There’s something so moving about hearing an orchestra play, and to have a collaboration with the APO and my songs is next level. We had a look around the Auckland Town Hall last time I was up. It’s such a beautiful space. I started to visualise the feeling of playing there and it excited me hugely.
I was doing a solo tour around the South Island and was in the Catlins when my manager received the email from the APO inviting me to perform. The show was originally supposed to happen in September 2020 but because of Covid 19, it got cancelled. Fortunately, though, they were able to find a date on February 11, so it’s taken that long to get round to playing this special show.
The cool thing about the APO performance is that it’s a true collaboration, and they encourage you to follow what feels right to you musically. I’ve been involved from the start, and have been across decisions such as who will arrange and conduct the music, plus I wrote the setlist.
Mahuia and I have known each other for a few years now, and he is a tremendously talented arranger, producer and instrumentalist. Working with Mahuia has been a breeze. We have looked over the arrangements together the whole way through, double-checking parts, making sure it feels natural, and always serves the music. He is a very selfless and hard-working guy.
I wanted to take people on a journey from where I began, to where I’m headed to. For instance, I’ll be playing songs off my first EP and then performing two new songs off my new record. Out of all the tracks I would have to say that the arrangement for Rainbow is my favourite. The parts are beautiful and I’m really excited about doing it live.
It’s hard to go past violin for me, my favourite for sure.
I sang in The Chorale at Wellington Boys College, but that’s about it. There’s an intimacy with a solo show, you wear your heart on your sleeve, for all to see, but getting to perform with a 65-piece orchestra is pretty mind-blowing.
A reference for me is a tune like What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. I went to jazz school, so I love classical and jazz music – it feels like home to me. We are definitely standing on the shoulders of giants!
Yes, I’m playing two new songs, Brighter Day and Love Levitates from my new album which will be out later on in the year. I can’t give too many details away yet…
I’ve got some plans in place for getting some content out of this show. It would be a shame not to document such an incredible opportunity.